CCI Institute for Excellence: Tips for Effective Department Meetings

A group of doctors meeting

Routine meetings in any department are imperative in order to function as a team and perform at an optimal level. The effective use of meetings is especially important when the department exists within a high-stress, fast-paced environment, as the Anesthesia Department does in the Operating Room (OR). Although the anesthesia service is not technically a department at all hospitals, it functions as such, and scheduled meetings are an essential component of this service.

Bringing the department together keeps lines of communication open and allows for time to discuss procedures, outstanding issues, recent successes, etc. However, departmental meetings are only effective if they have structure. The structure in routine meetings allows everyone to prepare by knowing what to expect and what is expected of them during the meeting time. Listed below are a few key points to follow for conducting departmental meetings.

Meetings Should be Routinely Scheduled

A monthly schedule which is relatively constant is ideal (e.g., the second Tuesday of the month at 06:30). Morning meetings have the advantage of personnel not having to return or remain at the hospital if their work is finished for the day. Try to pick a time that overall balances availability and convenience. Ad hoc meetings can always be utilized for issues that need longer discussion.

Departmental Meetings Should be Short

Unless there are unusual circumstances, monthly meetings should be less than 30 minutes. The function of these meetings is to update providers while allowing for face-to-face feedback and inquiries on the material covered. It is unacceptable to disrupt the OR in order to conduct or finish a meeting.

Prioritize Efficiency

Start on time, stick to an agenda, cover the material, and then socialize, commiserate, or celebrate. Remember, you are taking the time of every attendee, and as such, you must respect that time.

Make Meetings Mandatory

Unless on vacation, every member of the department needs to attend the meetings. Even if a member is “off” that day, attendance is expected. These meetings are an essential part of communication and maintaining the chain of command.

Cover Essential Items

It is your responsibility to cover essential items. The two primary sources of topics are the hospital (e.g., “The pharmacy is having difficulty reading our charges,” or “We expect Joint Commission any day.”) and CCI (e.g., “We have our quality reports and I would like to go over them,” or “Here are some ideas for our performance improvements next year.”).

Make Time for Engagement

Leave some time for department members to bring up their concerns or news that affects the department (e.g., a surgeon is leaving next month, or OB feels that we have inadequate patient education). A department is essentially a team, and everyone should contribute at some level.

Support Your Team

CCI takes pride in supporting our chiefs with clinical resources. We provide these resources directly through the chief’s folder. Feel free to share these resources with your department as appropriate. Also, this is a time to query how members are coping with any challenges (insert essentially any 2020 topic here).

Now, Create Meetings with Value

In short, following these few simple tips will ensure every meeting is productive and worthwhile for everyone involved. Well-structured, routine meetings will bring value to the department and team members and will build camaraderie

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